Media Circus: What current NBA players could become media stars once they retire? (2024)

From LeBron James and Kevin Durant starring in media projects produced by their own production companies to the burgeoning number of podcasts featuring current players, NBA athletes are no longer waiting until the conclusion of their careers to transition into a role in media. (Damian Lillard breaking stories about NBA news-breakers changing jobs belongs in his own awesome category.)


The podcast space is particularly robust with current NBA players, including Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (“Pull Up with C.J. McCollum”); Kent Bazemore and Vince Carter of the Atlanta Hawks (“Winging It”), Cleveland Cavaliers forward Channing Frye (who co-hosts “Road Trippin’” with the now-retired Richard Jefferson); Toronto Raptors shooting guard Danny Green (“Inside The Green Room with Danny Green”), and Philadelphia 76ers guard JJ Redick (“The JJ Redick Podcast”), among others.

The league is overflowing with players producing their own content and it got me thinking about which current players could transition seamlessly into a post-playing media job. With that in mind, I asked my colleagues at The Athletic who cover NBA teams which players on the team they cover would be a good fit for media careers beyond their playing days. Here’s how they responded; some awesome stuff here.

Chris Kirschner(Atlanta Hawks)

Vince Carter. The podcast he currently does with Kent Bazemore is terrific and entertaining. I’ve also found him to be very honest with his evaluations of players across the league, which is exactly what you’d want out of a former player turned broadcaster. Carter joined the Hawks partly because Atlanta is home to Turner’s studios, and he’ll once again do work for NBA TV this summer when he calls the Junior NBA World Championships. He’ll certainly be coveted by every network when he decides to retire.

Jay King(Boston Celtics)

Al Horford would be insightful, Jaylen Brown would be knowledgeable and Kyrie Irving would bring the biggest star presence, but Marcus Smart would have the best combination of personality and camera presence. Honorable mention goes to Marcus Morris, who may be the most entertaining player on the Celtics, but would need a cuss button on any TV show.


Michael Scotto(Brooklyn Nets)

Jared Dudley. He is a veteran in his 12th season who has played for six different teams and been around star players such as Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, John Wall, Giannis Antetokounmpo, etc. What makes Dudley a good media fit down the road is his ability to analyze plays on both sides of the ball — and he’s bluntly honest about any subject pertaining to the league on and off the court. He has previously done some media work in the past. If he doesn’t become an executive, the media industry will be a strong possibility for him.

Joe Vardon(Cleveland Cavaliers)

Kevin Love is the only Cavalier with the star power and communication skills to make a splash as a commentator for a national platform like ESPN, TNT, or NBATV. Love is funny, well read, has business acumen, and as a five-time All-Star and champion, can make his opinion count. Right away. Channing Frye, meanwhile, does not have the star power but has for the last few years hosted a popular podcast, is funnier than Love and also has an excellent basketball mind. Because I’m drawn to stars, I’d take Love, but Frye would be fantastic as well

Rod Boone(Charlotte Hornets)

Marvin Williams. As a 14-year veteran and someone who played at one of the nation’s most prestigious men’s basketball programs under Roy Williams at North Carolina, Williams has a wide range of knowledge about the game. He’s articulate and doesn’t have much trouble breaking down things from various aspects, easily offering insight on complex issues with anin-depth and knowledgeable perspective.

Darnell Mayberry(Chicago Bulls):

Ryan Arcidiacono.He’s thoughtful, insightful and patient. He has a knack for breaking down basketball strategy to make it easily understood. And he’s got great hair.

Tim Cato(Dallas Mavericks)

Since Dirk Nowitzki seems more interested in basketball operations than media, even though he would be great, let me suggest another name: J.J. Barea. He has a combination of humor, frankness, and likability that I believe would come together in a lovely manner on TV or in another medium.

Nick Kosmider(Denver Nuggets)

Mason Plumlee. The backup center for the Nuggets has created his own video series called “Founder Fridays,” in which he talks to young entrepreneurs about the businesses they have started. His curiosities extend well beyond basketball, and his sense of humor plays well in almost any setting.

James Edwards III(Detroit Pistons)
Ish Smith. A 30-year-old journeyman, Smith knows everyone and everything about the NBA. He’s one of the more hilarious characters you’ll come across, and he seems to be the most well-loved opponent in the NBA. Very knowledgeable in the game, and he’s shown a knack to tap into other player’s psyches during conversations.

Anthony Slater(Golden State Warriors):

Draymond Green. I’ve caught Draymond in the locker room a few times cracking up to a Shannon Sharpe clip on FS1. He’s a fan of Shannon’s entertaining yet insightful delivery, and I think it’s because he kind of sees himself in that media mold, should he choose that post-career route. Draymond is a funny, sharp Xs and Os genius with a track record of ruthless, honest commentary. Plus, he’s a big name, which may matter most in this world. So it’s easy to envision him on “Inside the NBA” in 2030, playing the Charles Barkley role.

Kelly Iko(Houston Rockets)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Chris Paul would be the most likely Rocket to transition smoothly into a media career once his days pounding the rock are finished. Like his peers Vince Carter, Jared Dudley and other like-minded veterans, Paul has an eloquent sense of public-speaking, combined with an unmatched knowledge of the game. His time served as the president of the players association gives him more of an understanding for the realm of media and the impact it can have on the masses. Imagine the rapport he would have on the same set as a Charles Barkley, Shaq or Kenny Smith.

Scott Agness(Indiana Pacers)

Thaddeus Young. He’s a stand-up professional, always available and unafraid to share his opinion. He offers great perspective as a 10-year vet who has played in a big market (Brooklyn), small market (Indiana) and for a team that is tanking (Philadelphia). He’s already in business, invested in a dozen companies, and has no interest in coaching. He’s the best leader on the Pacers and knows exactly how to approach each of his teammates. And he has an incredible Nike shoe collection.

Jovan Buha(Los Angeles Clippers)

Patrick Beverley. The Clippers don’t have many media personality types, but walk into the locker room at the right time before a game and you’ll crack up listening to Beverley give his take on anything from basketball to fashion to pop culture. He’s cut from the Barkley mold of keeping things raw and unfiltered — almost to a fault. Beverley is incapable of holding back his honest opinion in any situation. It can land him in trouble on the court, but off of it, it gives him star potential. He’s mentioned potentially wanting his own podcast down the line, and I think we’d all be better off for it.

Bill Oram(Los Angeles Lakers)

The Lakers have several I could see making that jump at some point. Obviously, LeBron James is already a media mogul, but others like Josh Hart, Rajon Rondo and Reggie Bullock all have the personalities to join us on the media side one day. But at the top of my list? Kyle Kuzma.He asked on Twitter the other day if he should start a podcast and I think the answer to that should be a unanimous yes. He’d be great at it now and after his playing days are done.


Omari Sankofa II(Memphis Grizzlies)

Before Memphis traded him to the Clippers last Thursday, my answer would’ve been Garrett Temple. He’s incredibly thoughtful, gracious with his time and brings a unique perspective to the game because of his upbringing (his dad, Collis, was the first black player to play basketball at LSU) and career as a journeyman. Instead, I’ll go with Mike Conley. He’s long been one of the savviest point guards in the NBA and always gives good, thoughtful answers regardless of the question or situation he’s in.

Shandel Richardson(Miami Heat)

In Miami, it’s Justise Winslow. Always an insightful interview and actually challenges reporters when they ask silly questions. It’s best to be prepared when interviewing him.

Eric Nehm(Milwaukee Bucks)

Brook Lopez. Giannis Antetokounmpo would be at the top of this list because of his playful personality and vast knowledge, but he insists we’ll never see him again once he retires. So instead, Lopez is the choice. He has a quirky personality and sarcastic wit, so he’d need the right partner to bring out the best of him, but if it happened, you’d get an entertaining broadcast. He also understands the intricacies of the game and does a nice job explaining them to inquiring reporters.

Jon Krawczynski(Minnesota Timberwolves)

Taj Gibson. He may not be interested in doing it after his career is over. Probably a better candidate to coach. But that’s what would make him great at it. He is introspective, passionate and willing to challenge popular narratives. He will speak up when he agrees with a point or doesn’t agree with one. Thoughtful and candid and with the reputation that makes his words carry serious weight. If he wanted to do it, he could shine.

Mike Vorkunov(New York Knicks)

DeAndre Jordan. He’s funny and he’s got a quick wit. He’s high profile enough that his words would resonate with national audiences and he’s willing to be light-hearted and not take himself too seriously. And he’s good with not sticking to the question asked and answering in his own way.

Will Guillory(New Orleans Pelicans)

I would say Solomon Hill. He’s very open with the media and does a great job explaining all parts of the game. Whenever I need a good quote, Hill is usually a guarantee to give me something interesting.

Brett Dawson(Oklahoma City Thunder)

Paul George. He has an easy on-camera demeanor, an All-Starrésumé in both conferences and an underrated dry sense of humor. As a bonus, he follows the whole league and is willing to share his opinions on anything from officiating to the news of the day with enough filter not to run afoul of censors. He’s the best bet on the roster, though Steven Adams — if he could clean up his language and put on a suit — would be a hilarious high-risk/high-reward option.


Josh Robbins(Orlando Magic)

Aaron Gordon. As his 2016 dunk contest performance showed, Gordon would bring charisma and a flair for the dramatic to a broadcast studio or to the sidelines. Gordon loves the spotlight. He appeared in the Kyrie Irving vehicle “Uncle Drew,” so he’s comfortable in front of the camera.

Derek Bodner(Philadelphia 76ers)

JJ Redick. He’s already an experienced podcaster and is comfortable both as an interviewer and interviewee. He has no problem turning basketball terminology into descriptions those not immersed in the game day in and day out can understand, and he seems to enjoy explaining the sport. The only problem: He may need to get back on social media, which he recently went cold turkey on.

Gina Mizell(Phoenix Suns)

Jamal Crawford. The veteran guard is as respected as anyone in the NBA, and that blend of experience and demeanor would yield a terrific perspective on topics pertaining to Xs and Os and team dynamics. I could also see Josh Jackson or Deandre Ayton growing into that type of role. Jackson is more thoughtful and Ayton more entertaining, but both already shine in media settings early in their careers.

Jason Quick(Portland Trail Blazers)

CJ McCollum. He majored in journalism at Lehigh and has shown interest in following through after his career. He’s already an experienced interviewer (he’s been granted sit-downs with Adam Silver for the past three years) and he is not afraid to speak his mind on his podcast. He’s more comfortable talking about Xs and Os than the human/emotional element of the game but there’s always a role for that.

Jason Jones(Sacramento Kings)

Kosta Koufos. His wit and sense of humor would make him a natural for a media career. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, knows and understands the game and would be entertaining.

Jabari Young(San Antonio Spurs)

The Spurs had a guy named Manu Ginobili — you may have heard of him. He was great at interviews, great at explaining things, gave valid points, was honest, and didn’t sugarcoat anything. Not sure if he had any desire to work in media, but he would be great. Since Ginobili is retired now, the current guy who would be solid in media is probably Patty Mills. He isn’t as forthright as Ginobili, but Mills is really good with details. There is always a person working in the media that is positive and will look at the other side of things instead of just feeding into negativity because that sells. Mills would be that guy.

Eric Koreen(Toronto Raptors)

Kyle Lowry. He would have to develop the patience, but few players I’ve come across can dissect X’s and O’s as thoroughly and quickly as the five-time All-Star. Fred VanVleet and Danny Green also have the requisite gift of the gab.


Tony Jones(Utah Jazz)

Joe Ingles. He’s thoughtful, insightful in interviews (when he actually talks), and he’s downright hilarious and doesn’t care what he says. He knows the game, he’s been a player at most levels (journeyman, roster fringe guy, guy who has been cut and now high-level NBA starter), and he’s charismatic.

Fred Katz(Washington Wizards)

Bradley Beal. He’s smart, funny and honest. He rarely ever ticks into autopilot to spews clichés, which is rare for someone of his stature. He has a unique perspective on the game and is genuinely interested in media. Every once in a while, he’ll pull reporters over to ask why we ask specific questions or what our scrum strategies are. It seems like he’s already doing his homework.

The Ink Report

1. ESPN investigative reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada says he reached out to Bob Costas a year ago regarding his curiosity as to why Costas — the longtime face of NBC Sports — had no role in the network’s presentation of Super Bowl LII. Said Fainaru-Wada: “I thought if we could get Bob to talk openly about how he managed and balanced the tension that existed between being the face of football for NBC and talking about an issue that is an existential crisis for NBC’s largest business partner, I thought about how that would work and how he managed it and what impact it might have had on his career — all of which spoke to sort of the power of the league. So I reached out to him about a year ago and said, ‘Look, this is a story that we (ESPN’s “Outside The Lines”) are interested in telling. Would be open to talking about it?’ Fortunately, he said ‘yes.’”

The result of Fainaru’s year-long reporting culminated last Sunday when “Outside the Lines” ran a video and text pieceon Costas being excised from NBC’s football coverage. In Episode 40 of the Sports Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch, Fainaru-Wada discussed the piece in full including how the story came to fruition; how often he spoke with Costas; why he thinks Costas talked to him; how he approached NBC Sports and what their response was to his inquiries; whether an in-game broadcast of the NFL can ever tell hard truths; calling me out for saying ESPN would no longer do investigative work on third rail NFL issues; how he navigated this story with his superiors, who negotiate NFL media contracts; ESPN’s commitment to this kind of reporting, and much more.

The podcast also includes conversations with Fox Sports NASCAR host and NFL reporter Shannon Spake, and preeminent NASCAR writer and reporter Jeff Gluck.

Spake discussed being named host of FOX NASCAR’s race coverage, including all the anchor duties for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; how that assignment came about; how she plans to forge chemistry with her studio group; the numbers of women working in NASCAR; how to navigate covering the sport from a studio in Charlotte; why NASCAR has hemorrhaged television viewers; working on the team of Thom Brennaman and Chris Spielman on NFL games this season; the differences and similarities between NFL and college football sideline reporting; whether players and coaches curse more in pro football or college; the differences between working at Fox and ESPN; her super fandom of The Howard Stern show; her training as an endurance racer and racing in multiple half Ironmans (1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run), and much more.


“We all are in this industry for a short period of time and the opportunities that come your way, you have to jump on them,” Spake said of her many roles.

Gluck discussed covering NASCAR via crowdfunding and how he supports his career and life via his Patreon page; why he opted to leave USA Today for this new style of independent reporting; who his patrons are and why he thinks they fund him; his current relationship with NASCAR; how he views the state of the media covering NASCAR today; why media outlets have scaled back on NASCAR coverage; whether ESPN leaving the sport has had an impact; the declining television ratings of the sport; how to get more people of color and women interested in NASCAR; whether the crowdfunding approach could work for writers in major sports, and much more.

“For the most part your audience does not really care where you are writing,” Gluck said. “They are going to follow you.”

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher and more.

2. Sports Business Daily assistant managing editor Austin Karp reported that 16 of the top 56 U.S. television markets had double-digit percentage declines for viewership of this year’s Super Bowl versus the 2018 Super Bowl, including 11 NFL markets. Here were the highest and lowest-rated markets for Super Bowl LIII, per Karp.

Usual great work by @AustinKarp. These are the highest and lowest-rated TV markets for the Super Bowl. New Orleans was down 51 percent from last year. Philadelphia was down -22%

— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) February 11, 2019

2a. Karp said there were 14 markets that saw rating increases for the Patriots-Rams, including Boston, Los Angeles and the game’s host market, Atlanta. L.A was the biggest gainer, up 9 percent over last year.

2b. The final viewership number for CBS’s debut broadcast of the Alliance of American Football last Saturday night was 3.25 million viewers. That’s a strong debut number and topped the Thunder-Rockets on ABC (2.67 million viewers) head to head. What will ultimately matter is where the league is at the end of this season. Can they retain a majority of that audience? The XFL — as most of you old-timers know —drew 15.7 million viewers for its first game (also on a Saturday night) and then sank all the way to extinction. The NFL Network’s AAF debut drew 640,000, per Sports Media Watch.


2c. Interesting thoughts from Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk on the relationship between officiating, technology and the opening game of the AAF.

3. Here are the complete broadcast plans (via press release) for Turner Sports’s coverage of the NBA All-Star Weekend and Game.

4. Non-sports pieces of note:

  • The best story I have read in 2019 is via Thomas Lake of CNN: Twelve years after James Brown’s death, nearly a dozen people who knew him are calling for an autopsy or a criminalinvestigation.
  • Working with The Trace, The Miami Herald, and McClatchy, student reporters set out to measure the void left in homes and classrooms that have lost young people to the pull of a trigger.
  • Via Brett Gelman of The Tennessean: A Tennessee clinic swindled the military out of $65M. This is how it got caught.
  • A lot to unpack here on contemporary sexuality with this Alex Williams story on “digisexuals.”
  • A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions. From Ian Parker of The New Yorker.
  • From The Wall Street Journal and Frontline: Decades of parental complaints, whistleblower accusations, government investigations — none of it stopped a pedophile doctor from abusing Native American boys.
  • How A Young Woman Followed Two Hackers’ Lies To Her Death. Via Joseph Bernstein and Davey Alba of BuzzFeed News.
  • From Jeff Bezos, writing on Medium: “I’ve written a post about developments with the National Enquirer and its parent company, AMI.”
  • Via Anne Helen Peterson of Buzzfeed: Here’s Why So Many Americans Feel Cheated By Their Student Loans.
  • Via Don Winslow for Vanity Fair: The Dirty Secret of El Chapo’s Downfall.

Sports pieces of note:

  • From Michael Lee of The Athletic: Moses Malone and his legendary hustle are finally immortalized in Philadelphia.
  • The longtime Dallas Morning news sports columnist and NFL writer Rick Gosselin wrote his final column.
  • Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell on Frank Robinson.
  • Via Greg Mercer of the Waterloo Record: Kitchener baseball instructor Trevor Nyp has parlayed his Instagram account about baseball fielding techniques into a coaching job in the Los Angeles Angels’ minor-league system.

5. ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports at the Sports Emmys ceremony on May 20 in New York City.

5a. Coverage of the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine includes the NFL Network and a new player, ABC.

5b. Fox Sports will be the U.S. television broadcaster for the World Surf League’s Men’s and Women’s Championship Tour (CT), as well as the Big Wave Tour. Fox Sports says it will telecast more than 500 hours of WSL programming, including live events and highlight shows, across Fox, FS1, FS2 and the Fox Sports app in 2019.

5c. Showtime will air a four-part docuseries next month titled “Action” that explores the legalization of sports gambling via the lives of professional gamblers, sports book workers, and oddsmakers. The series will premiere March 24 at 8 p.m. ET.

(Top photo of Redick: David Dow / NBAE via Getty Images)

Media Circus: What current NBA players could become media stars once they retire? (2024)


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